Elizabeth: July 1587, 16-20

Pages 180-188

Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Elizabeth, Volume 21, Part 3, April-December 1587. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

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July 1587, 16-20

Her Majesty hearing that the enemy has taken the great sconce before Sluce, desires you to have a special regard to Ostend, to see all defects supplied of munition, victuals and other necessaries for its defence, fearing that if the enemy prevails against Sluce, he will attempt something against it. And whereas it pleased her and my lords of the Council, at the earnest request of the French ambassador, to recommend to your Excellency and the Council of Zeeland the release of such French ships laden with corn as are stayed there, I am now to signify to you that she leaves it to your consideration to do as you shall see cause ; save that ready money or some other consideration should be given them for their corn, "and used otherwise with all favour." If the corn cannot well be "uttered" there, it would find good vent here, if sent over presently. Draft. Endd. with date. 1 p. [Holland XVI. f. 112.]
According to his honour's directions received this morning will repair to London with all convenient speed ; having spent the day in setting down his knowledge of the questions sent him, which he now returns. Has not his papers there, but if anything be mistaken therein, he will resolve his honour thereof at his coming.Ricott, 16 July, 1587. Signed. Add. Endd. p. [Ibid. XVI. f. 113.]
Returns answers to the questions sent him on behalf of her Majesty. Hopes he has answered them all "directly" and trusts that he has not been overbold or too plain. Has begun to collect out of his books and papers such things as are to make up the report of proceedings in the Low Countries in the time of his service there, but beseeches that it may not be hastily called for, as it will require much time in the doing. Would be glad to understand when it would be fit for him to make suit for his enlargement. Has in the Low Countries got a disease which he trusts [sic] will make him unfit for any more public services. It is a fistula, and for the care thereof he is advised to go to the Bath about the beginning of August ; wherefore, if her Majesty will favour his poor life, he hopes she will hasten his liberty ; and prays his honour's furtherance in the matter.The Fleet, 17 July, 1587. Signed. 1 p. [Ibid. XVI. f. 114.]181
[June 15.] Questions to be resolved by Mr. Wilkes.
1. What moneys are still due to her Majesty from the States ; how much has been repaid, and what has he or her other ministers done for the recovery thereof.
2. What has been done in clearing the accounts of her Majesty and the States, that, after the end of the war she may be answered for what she has disbursed. And if nothing has been done, what was the impediment.
3. How much has been collected of the extraordinary contribution, and how employed.
4. Whether the ordinary contributions be duly paid, and how they are like to continue.
5. "Whether the said contributions be not greater than are answered to the public, being converted ... to the benefit of certain particular persons."
6. Whether licence for carrying victuals to the enemy has been granted by assent or privity of himself or any other of her Majesty's ministers. "And if not, what he or they have done to impeach the same."
7. What he or they have done "to procure that the regiments of strangers serving in Zeeland might be committed to Sir William Russell."
8. "What should move the people to dislike of the overture of peace ... and what course might be taken to draw them to like thereof."
9. Which of the States hath most credit with the people, and whether any of them may be made instruments to draw them to incline to a peace."
10. "What persons that have credit with the people are suspected to incline to Spain."
11. "What towns stand doubtfully affected ... and what garrisons are placed in the same."
12. "What towns are at the Count Hollock's devotion."
13. "How the captains and soldiers of the country birth stand affected to Count Hollock."
14. "Which of the States are most inward with Count Hollock."
15. "Whether any motion hath been made underhand by the Count Hollock to bring the sovereignty of those countries unto the King of Denmark, and how far the same hath been proceeded in."
Underneath, written by Burghley "Lord of Buckhurst, dealing with evil-disposed, not dealing with the well-affected. Endd. "16 July, 1587. Copy. Questions to be resolved by Mr. Wilkes." 1 pp. [Holland XVI. f. 115.] [But the heading of the Answers (below) shows that the questions were delivered on June 15.]
June 15. Answers and resolutions of Tho. Wilkes upon the questions delivered to him, as from her Majesty, the 15 of June 1587, at the Fleet.
1. The knowledge of the employment of her Majesty's treasure in no sort appertains to him, yet for his own experience and for her Majesty's better service, he has obtained copies of the accounts. In February last, the States declared that as it was covenanted with the Earl of Leicester, when he first accepted the absolute government that the administration of the treasure of the country and payment of the men of war should be at the disposition of his lordship and the Council of State jointly ; and as the disbursement of the said sums has been contrary to the resolution taken, they see no reason to charge the country therewith ; but this notwithstanding, both he and Lord Buckhurst have urged and demanded the said sums, but could never get them, or any part thereof.
2. The treasurer at war exhibited to the States in January last two several books of accounts of her Majesty's charges ; and by the apostiles added, it will appear how they allow or disallow of the payments.
3. Cannot well tell, but supposes that at his departure from the Hague there was not much levied.
4. The ordinary contributions have been duly paid in money, victuals, munition etc. "It is not unlike they may be continued but with difficulty, in respect of the spoil done upon the flat country this last winter and the loss of Deventer ... and if there follow any further loss of town and country, they must of necessity diminish.
5. Thinks it has been impossible to defraud the public of any part of the contributions, as they are farmed, and that only for six months ; and the rates are published in print in all the towns of each province. The farmers pay monthly to the Receivers and they to the Receiver-General, who could not defraud the public as all men knew how much was to be received. Whether, since the expiration of the year, when the said contributions have been handled by the States General, these last have made any profit, he knows not ; but it is almost impossible to raise the impositions, "they are already so intolerably enhanced."
6. Cannot remember whether any licence was ever granted at the Council board ; but if so "they have grown either from the States among whom there are many Lorendrayers (as is said) or from the masters of the convoys, who for the most part are men of bad condition and corrupt. But the Council has often found it necessary to grant licence to merchants to convey cloths and other dry merchandises to the enemy, (they giving round sums for such licences), "of mere necessity to get money to pay their ships of war."
7. The Lord Buckhurst has by his letters sufficiently answered this question, to whom only the matter has been recommended. Nobody can dispose of this regiment save the Earl of Leicester, so long as he is governor of the United Provinces.
8. Those of the Reformed Religion hate all speech of peace ; the rest are ready to hearken to it, "the Papists for their consciences, and the rest (Anabaptists etc.) for their ease and commodity, having as much liberty ... in the time of Popery as they have now." The last can be drawn to allow the peace by their ministers and those of their consistories only.
9. In his late discourse written to her Majesty, he named the States most in repute with the people, "but neither they nor any of that College will easily be won to like of a peace."
10. Has heard of none in particular save one called Van Dorpe, "a man of great wealth, wise and sufficient, a great papist and of the College of the States" (fn. 1) who has some credit with the people, and affects the peace. M. de Brederode desires it extremely, "yet a gentleman noted to be a good patriot and not unsound in Religion."
11. The towns all naturally hate the Spaniard, but where they are weak and not well garrisoned, fear inclines them to hearken to the enemy. Thus the frontier towns are and must be so well furnished with garrisons, as to master the burghers in case of danger.
12. Count Hohenlo has under his charge Huisden, Gertruydenberg, Willemstat, Sevenberg, the Clundart and at his devotion Bomell, Gorcum, Worcum, Wercandam, the castle of Hedell and other forts and places of strength on the frontiers of Brabant. Also the good towns and places of strength in South Holland, being lieutenant-governor there, and the garrisons being of his placing and at his command.
13. The Count has "the good-liking and opinion of the greater sort of the captains of that country-birth, and whosoever hath the captains, hath the soldiers." They were ill-paid in the time of my lord of Leicester's first government, and the Count has procured them pay and contentment for their arrears. There is one reason why he enjoys their affection above all others, "which is the manner of his life and conversation among them ; as to drink them drunk ; to banquet them often as he doth ; he is affable and familiar with them, liberal when he has money and bountiful in all his doings."
14. The States all affect Count Hohenlo ; but the most inward with him are Barnevelt, Paul Bus, Carlo Rorda and Brassard, the burgo-master of Delft, who rule all in the assembly of the States."
15. Never heard that the Count moved to offer those countries to the King of Denmark, but the States sent four persons to him in May last under colour of treating for the relaxation of certain of their ships, arrested in the Sound ; and it is thought they had commission to deal with him to accept the sovereignty, "which, being true, some alteration will be found in the King concerning the truce." (fn. 2) Endd. "17 July, 1587." 6 pp. [Holland XVI. f. 117.]
With all the English officers wishes Walsingham and others to understand and judge their case and action. It is well known that towns cannot be kept unless they have victuals and munition. I have shown our needs by sundry letters, and the bearer, Captain Harte went for us all to his Excellency and Estates to declare divers things not convenient to be written, who stayed with them three weeks without any answer. "When we entered, we were 550 Englishmen strong, eight companies of Walloons and Dutch not so many ; of burghers and peasants not 150." We fought in a great sconce, where we lost, "hurt and slain, better than 350. Considering our wants and losses, with the greatness of the grounds we had to man ... we quitted the fort in the night, leaving nothing behind us but bare earth. Since, we have been battered with great fury with 28 cannons ... [but] with half moons and works within, God hath preserved us unto this hour. On St. James Eve, after their style, they shot almost four thousand shot. From two of the clock until twelve the next day, we abode four sundry assaults. Since the first day of his approach we were found to keep always in guard nine companies of the twelve, and for this eighteen days all, more than half continually with arms in their hands for the space of five days to defend the great breach. The poor burghers, women and boors do help us in nothing save carrying our victuals.... We are so travailed with works and fight that we are half lost, besides the enemy lodges in our gate and breach. We are slain and spoiled, ten captains, six lieutenants, 18 sergeants, of soldiers in all almost 600 ; ... never brave soldiers were thus lost for want of easable succours. Notwithstanding, at this hour we were summoned to yield by the Marquis of Rentie from his Altesse ; saying we did the King wrong to keep his right. I answered for the governor and the rest of the town that we were not sent hither to dispute Princes' right or actions ; but commanded by the Queen of England's lieutenant and the Estates unies to answer the place unto them, wherefore we are resolved to try our fortune unto the uttermost ; who is returned, swearing my death." We have not now powder for three skirmishes. "For myself, I wish myself dead for 'debosing' so many brave men unto their ruin.... The old saying is true, wit is never good until it be dearly bought but I and the rest of my companions have and is like to pay too dear for it." We heartily thank your honour and the rest of our good friends for your great care of our well doing, and the courtesy always received at your hands.Sluce, 18 July, 1587. Postscript. "Now I persuade myself that the enemy's speeches are like to prove troth, who says your succours will come three days after the battle. Little doth Sir William Pelham and the rest consider the Duke of Parma his proceedings, with fury and all manner of engines, with bridges, provisions on boats and uncroiable devices. They see in their card the town of Sluce, but do not see the works of both sides, nor feel the pain of their poor friends.... Captain Allen is come unto us with great hazard, to take part of our banquet." Add. in Sir Roger's hand, "To Mr. Secretary, the 18 of July, 87." 1 p. Extremely small writing. [Holland XVI. f. 122.]
I have received yours of the 11th and seen one from you to Mr. Controller, and as in some things they accord and in some they differ, I will make answer for myself, and let Mr. Controller do likewise, not thinking but that our several answers may tend to one end, for we both are acquainted with her Majesty's sincere good mind to live in peace with all princes. Your letter is very long, as your manner is ... which yet I do not mislike, although the matter of your whole letter may be reduced for my answer into a small room. It seemeth by the Duke's speeches that he continueth in mind to have the treaty to begin for the conclusion of a good peace, and so also, her Majesty hath the like mind, and so, I think, all good counsellors to both the States are earnestly inclined. Now therefore ... it is to be considered from whence the impediment groweth. I see what is said there on the Duke's part ; that he is ready to appoint commissioners to meet with ours, but in the meantime, he proceedeth with all his forces that he can command to besiege, batter, assault and by blood to destroy a town guarded with her Majesty's people ; I mean Sluys, after that he had offered the like attempt to Ostend. Now how these two actions do agree is easily to be seen ; to offer to treat of peace in words and to use all actions of a bloody war at the same instant.... I find her Majesty disposed to have a treaty, and to have her commissioners ready also to take shipping, if the Duke shall forbear his present hostility against Sluys. And if he be thereto disposed, he may find commodity to accord with the Earl of Leicester, her Majesty's Lieutenant ... for some reasonable manner of a cessation or intermission of arms, whereunto if the Duke shall be willing, then upon advertisement thereof, with assurance to affectuate the same, then may you assure yourself that our commissioners shall slack no time to come thither, but [if] the Duke shall not be willing hereto, then it will be hard to induce her Majesty to send her commissioners out of the realm. And therefore the sooner her Majesty may be advertised hereof, the sooner will some success follow. And besides this, before our commissioners may take shipping to come into those parts, it is right that there be a safe-conduct for their passage by sea, which I pray you remember to obtain if the cessation of arms shall take place. Thus much shortly for answer of your letter ; but I marvel you give us no light what may be hoped to be obtained for the people of the Provinces United, to enjoy their religion and exercise thereof, a matter whereof I did always warn you that without the same, I never could hope of any sound conclusion or effect of peace. When I had writ thus far and had read it over, being ready to sign it, I bethought myself that you would think I had not answered one great scruple ... by the Duke remembered, which was that he misliked greatly the actions of Sir Fr. Drake, doubting that they might alienate the King's mind from the inclining to peace ; whereunto this answer ought to satisfy you, to be delivered if hereafter the Duke shall re-iterate that scruple. True it is, and I avow it upon my faith, her Majesty did send a ship expressly with a message by letters, charging him not to show any act of hostility before he went to Cales, which messenger by contrary winds could never come to the place where he was, but was constrained to come home ; and hearing of Sir Fr. Drake's actions, her Majesty commanded the party that returned to have been punished, but that he acquitted himself by the oath of himself and all his company. "And so unwitting, yea unwilling to her Majesty those actions were committed by Sir Fr. Drake, for the which her Majesty is as yet greatly offended with him. And now for his bringing home of a rich ship that came out of the East Indies, I assure me the Queen knoweth not as yet of what value her lading is, but considering the great losses that her subjects had, both by arrest of all their goods in Spain and by taking of their persons and imprisoning of them to their ruin and death, it cannot be that his ship nor many more the like can satisfy our former losses. And therefore until a peace may be made and finished, her Majesty cannot inhibit her subjects to seek their helps by reprisals, neither can her Majesty leave to keep her ships armed, or to send them to the parts of Spain as long as she shall certainly understand the continual preparations that the King maketh, both out of Spain and Italy to have an army on the seas, with manifest intention to come to the invasion of her countries ; whereof all the coasts of Spain do daily send out threatenings ; and hereunto we add, as an evil sign of inclination to peace, in that we hear that divers of our rebels are lately gone out of France to the Duke of Parma, accompanied with the Bishop of Ross disguised, to practise with the Duke to offend this realm by the way of Scotland." Copy by Burghley himself. Endd. with date. 5 pp. [Flanders I. f. 302.]
July 19. "The points that Sir John Norreys must answer unto the lords of her Majesty's Council." About leaving, without giving Leicester notice ; bringing away men, captains and horses ; and severity with mutineers at Brill, with his answers. (fn. 3) Endd. by Burghley with date. "19 July, 1587." 2 pp. [Holland XVI. f. 123.]
To my great grief, I understand by you that her Majesty is not satisfied with my answer, showing the cause of my departure out of the Low Countries without paying my duty to the Lord General, wherefore "I am forced to show some inward cause of my so doing, which I would most willingly have concealed, even with a patient acceptation of my punishment," and so must boldly confess that the displeasure conceived against me by his lordship was the chief cause which terrified me to appear in his presence, being informed by persons of credit that he had given out threats of revenge against me. Further, he had written some bitter letters to me, and refused, at the earnest instigation of Mr. Secretary Walsingham (who mediated for me) to receive any good impression of me ; "wherewith, and with the slender success of mine own endeavours by letters often written to his lordship to be heard in my defence before I was condemned, ... I thought it my best to forbear to come in his lordship's sight, wherewith if her Majesty be displeased, I am most heartily sorry." Yet I shall make it appear by Dr. Hotman, his lordship's agent, that I did not omit, in all actions and matters in those countries wherein his lordship's honour, credit and authority were brought in question, to say and do as much in his lordship's defence as he could have desired. I trust your lordships will think that the advertisement I caused to be given to his lordship by Dr. Hotman, in the time of my sickness, of the lewd purpose of Marignan to destroy his lordship might have served for a sufficient argument of my dutiful inclination towards him ; but since nothing hath prevailed to appease his lordship, I trust her Majesty will [so] graciously consider of the state of her poor servant ... as not to suffer any more to be laid upon me than flesh and blood may well bear ... to whom I beseech your lordships most humbly to be a mean for the recovery of her gracious favour towards me. Signed. Endd. with date by Burghley's clerk. 1 pp. [Holland XVI. f. 125.]
July 20. Matters to be interrogated of the Lord of Buckhurst and to require of him :
1. The writing containing his negotiation with Mr. Killigrew and Mr. Beale at Midlebrough.
2. A like writing of the Lord of Buckhurst, Sir John Norrice, Dr. Clerk and Mr. Wilkes, containing their negotiation with the States.
3. The conference with the Count Moryce and Hollock upon their griefs.
4. Two letters, one sent out of England and dispersed in the Low Countries after that the States had written an offensive letter to the Earl of Leicester ; the other written by the Lord of Buckhurst to sundry towns.
5. "A note of the Lord Buckhurst's answers to the Earl of Leicester at Midelbrough."
In Burghley's handwriting and endorsed by him with date, p. [Ibid. XVI. f. 127.]
July 20. "A collection of such points as have been misliked in the Lord of Buckhurst's negotiation," with brief notes of his replies as contained in his letters of June 8. (fn. 4) [Touching accepting the States answers, the grievances of Counts Maurice and Hollock, the loan for 50,000l., the regiment of Zeeland, letters to States of Holland about Deventer, Villiers and Hollock's charge against Leicester.] Endd. with date by Burghley. 1 p. [Holland XVI. f. 129.]
When I last came out of England, I had with me but twenty-six thousand pounds, which by your project was to serve for the pay of 3000 English for four months, for a levy of 2000 Walloons and the charges of transportation, "which I might make good shift to do." But instead of finding good store of money in the treasurer's hands, as you expected, there was but 3000l. ; and that spent within a few days of my arrival ; so that now, all the Queen's bands "are fain to be imprested for their weekly loans of this money, and then how long it be like to last you may judge." But seeing what important services are in hand, I hope you will use all your furtherance for the speedy dispatch of more. Vlushing, 20 July, 1587. Postscript. We have been three times at sea for the relief of Sluys, but the west wind has put us back again. Yesternight tide the most part were [shipped ?] and I trust ere this are safely arrived at Ostend, by which way our men must pass ; and the rest, who are to enter by the haven will be ready this night ... Our men in Sluys have bydden [abided] two great assaults already at the West gate ; have repulsed the enemy with great slaughter. They are in hard case ; but by their signs this last night given, yet well. And how little help and how slackly these men have given us, I am ashamed to tell you. That we must do is by our men only. Of this you shall hear more, and how shameful dealing and dangerous my lord Buckhurst and Wilkes did practise here. In his own hand. You must make the more haste to send money, for our merchants here say they can by no means furnish the Treasurer with 3000l. "It is high time to look to your trade if your merchants decay and others also." Add. Endd. 1 p. [Ibid. XVI. f. 131.]
Sends the bearer, Coomes, with his letters, who would gladly be doing of somewhat, and thinks he ought to have been allowed to go earlier. Would have sent him to Germany, "but he utterly misliketh of that journey." Hopes to relieve Sluys in three or four days ; and would have been ready before this, if the aid looked for had been given them. Coomes will declare the present state of Sluys. Signed. Add. Endd. p. [Ibid. XVI. f. 133.]


  • 1. Presumably Arend van Dorp.
  • 2. Printed in extenso in Cabala, pt. 2, p. 77.184
  • 3. Printed in extenso in Cabala, pt. 2, p. 77.187
  • 4. These "points" are the first 6 of the 10 printed in Cabala, pt. ii, p. 55. Buckhurst's letter of June 8 is missing.